The H Conte Schwimmwagen the other day reminded me of this other genuine 1968 LeSabre land yacht. Titled “Two If By Sea” (1986) it was created by Pippa Garner (formerly Phillip Garner). It’s a brilliant take on the term “land yacht”, so commonly applied to Detroit’s…barges. And the choice of the Buick, with its “portholes” and sweeping lines is of course perfect. And yes, it was operated from the “flying deck”. The only thing missing was an early Dynaflow transmission, which would have made it sound just like a cabin cruiser.
I became aware of Garner in 1973, when his first automotive creation created a bit of a sensation: a 1959 Chevy sedan mounted backwards on its chassis. I bought Garner’s “Better Living Catalog” when it appeared in 1982, and still have it somewhere. And her drawings in the back of Car and Driver magazines was always something to look forward to.
No, it’s not a wrong-way driver. Garner’s first major project was this collaboration with the Ant Farm, flipping the body of this ’59 Biscayne front to rear. It must have raised some eyebrows in traffic. As a rather subversive-minded twenty-year old, when I heard about this all I could say was fucking brilliant! Which it was.
Can you imagine looking in your rear view mirror and see this gaining on you? And on the Golden Gate Bridge, no less. I wonder what happened to it.
Here’s another shot of the Buick. It just needs one of those platforms off the rear bumper for water skiers. Or amybe a little dinghy on a trailer.
Garner’s Better Living Catalog featured all kinds of highly practical and useful inventions. Better to have the inventor show them to Johnny Carson (and you) than try to explain them.
Here’s some of his sketches from Car and Driver:
Garner ‘s sketches appeared in the back pages there for some years, and was often the best thing in the magazine.
The Better Living Catalog is available to check out from the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/philipgarnersbet00garn
This was the first device in the book. Looks familiar today…
I recall reading that Pippa first envisioned reversing a 1959 Cadillac but couldn’t afford one. He chose the Biscayne because it was available, but still ” a very directional car”.
Paraphrasing Doc Emmett Brown…
The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a yacht from a car, why not do it with some style?
The freeway pics of the backwards Biscayne are utterly terrifying.
I’d loved to have come across that Chevy in traffic. I remember the double ended cars people would build. There was a guy in my area who owned a car lot, and had a white ’56 Chevy double ender. The taillights on the “rear” were located in the turn signals under the headlights.
Maxwell Smart had a desk like that in The Nude Bomb.
And, I wonder if the All-Natural SUV was available with the Exhaust Scentor as optional equipment
” … I was experimenting with some various herbal scents…”
As an owner of a 67 LeSabre coupe under restoration I can say that this really works. With the back glass removed, and sitting on the parcel shelf you get a feeling of being at the helm of a large boat.
Ant Farm put out some interesting books too. I picked this one up when I was 19-years-old and it changed the way I thought about transportation:
‘AUTOMERICA: A Trip Down U.S. Highways From World War II to the Future’
by Ant Farm ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 15, 1976
From a book review:
“A cheeky freeform chronicle–part confession, part scrapbook, part critique–of how America’s post-WW II autofanaticism collapsed. Author Chip Lord was a founder of Ant Farm, the West Coast design collective that buried ten Cadillacs up to theft tailfins, Stonehenge-like, on a Texas ranch; once upon a time, in the Fifties of his childhood, the car had been synonymous for him ‘with love, with romance, with driving off into the sunset.’ His characteristic journey from infatuation to disillusion to amusement is implemented with a quick, sharp history of auto manufacturing, design, and marketing; of motels, drive-ins, and the Interstate. For his generation, the Vietnam War was the eye-opener: ‘the myth of techno-supremacy . . .was challenged and defeated for the first time by a people whose lifestyle was agriculturally oriented. . . We knew we had the power to make independent choices about our lives.’ One result was ‘nomadic truckitecture,’ the funky mobile homes now on the roads; another, Lord’s assessment that neither mass transit nor cars can make traveling 20 or 30 miles cheap. (‘The real future belongs to the bicycle.’) Lots of old ads, candid photos, publicity shots; some nostalgia; plenty of solid thought.”
As I recall he promoted the then-new Rabbit as a sensible car, if one had to have a car. The book is long out of print but available used.
I’d love to see a photo of the ’59 Chevy with the hood and trunk open. Just did some googling without much success. I would classify that car as hilarious but dangerous.
If I remember right, that LeSabre land yacht resided in the basement of the Petersen Automotive Museum back in 2002 when I briefly worked there.
I remember reading an article about the backwards ‘59 Chevy when I was a kid in the Seventies – I thought the pictures were hilarious. I’ll have to look up the Better Living Catalog. A friend’s dad had a ‘68 Le Sabre as a daily driver for many years. I can just imagine him making a land yacht out of it.
Props to Pippa for a witty parade float of which he can be proud. However, seeing one of my favorite Buicks, apparently in good original condition, in a rare and desirable color scheme (Deep Blue Metallic – Code E and Artic (sic) White Vinyl), end up this way, leaves me just a bit blue myself.
Oh god, what an unexpected delight! I’ve never heard of her or these cars (or the art), but it’s all perfect. That interview on Carson is priceless, and not a small amount of the comedy going directly over Carson’s combover.
Absolutely fucking brilliant indeed.